Eyegate Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that it has acquired Jade Therapeutics, Inc. to treat poorly-served ophthalmic indications. Jade’s proprietary, cross-linked, bio-erodible hydrogel technology has demonstrated a variety of unique and beneficial characteristics, whether employed alone or as a sustained-release drug-delivery vehicle. In conjunction with the acquisition, EyeGate will gain a strong research and development team and the co-founders of Jade have been appointed to senior management or consulting roles within EyeGate.
Barbara Wirostko, M.D., Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Jade has joined EyeGate as Chief Medical Officer and MaryJane Rafii, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Jade has joined in a consulting role to assist with ongoing business development activities. “The integration of Jade into EyeGate significantly strengthens our market position through the addition of a robust preclinical pipeline that complements EyeGate’s ongoing efforts to develop novel treatments for diseases of the eye.
The acquisition also meets our objective of expanding our development focus and building a diversified portfolio of ocular therapeutic assets led by EGP-437 and our iontophoretic delivery technology,” commented Stephen From, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eyegate Pharmaceuticals. “Our expanded pipeline now includes both preclinical and clinical assets that collectively address a large market opportunity. We are very excited about this opportunity and are confident that by combining the capabilities of both the companies, we can create value for our shareholders while developing products to potentially help patients suffering from eye disorders.”
Jade’s proprietary, cross-linked thiolated carboxymethyl hyaluronic acid (CMHA-S) is a modified form of the natural polymer hyaluronic acid (HA) which possesses unique physical and chemical properties such as viscoelasticity and water retention. The ability of CMHA-S to adhere longer to the ocular surface, resist degradation and protect the ocular surface makes it well suited for treating various ocular surface injuries. This novel cross-linked HA product has demonstrated global safety and efficacy in small animals in a real world setting, as it is already marketed as a highly efficacious veterinary product by BayerDVM under the Remend™ brand to treat corneal wounds.
EyeGate intends to initiate a clinical study for Jade’s lead product candidate for corneal epithelial defects in late 2016. With the transaction, Jade has become a wholly owned subsidiary of EyeGate. EyeGate’s acquisition of Jade has led to the creation of a premier ophthalmology company at the forefront of developing innovative therapies for patients with ocular diseases. Dr. Wirostko added, “I am thrilled to join EyeGate following this transaction. With a strong executive team and a deep ophthalmic pipeline, it became clear early in the process that EyeGate was the optimal company to continue the development of Jade’s proprietary CMHA-S technology.
We believe that CMHA-S has tremendous potential across multiple ophthalmic indications, and I look forward to working with the EyeGate team to advance the technology to clinical trials and, hopefully, to market.” Dr. Barbara Wirostko, Co-founder of Jade and newly-appointed EyeGate Chief Medical Officer, is a board certified ophthalmologist and holds appointments as a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor in Ophthalmology, Moran Eye Center, and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Utah. She is a former Senior Medical Director and Development Lead at Pfizer, where she led a successful EU regulatory EMA filing for Xalatan in pediatric glaucoma and oversaw the development of Pfizer’s glaucoma pipeline strategy as well as the Medical programs for the global product Xalabrands.
At Pfizer, she had direct involvement with early drug development programs, clinical trials, and post marketing medical responsibilities in the areas of diabetes, AMD, dry eye, and glaucoma. Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Wirostko was Chief Ophthalmologist practicing as a clinician and specializing in glaucoma at the Huntington Medical Group PC, in Huntington, New York. During her 10 years in practice, she served as Principle Investigator for various pivotal glaucoma clinical trials for major pharmaceutical companies specialized in eye care.
Under the terms of the agreement, in consideration for the outstanding equity interests in Jade, EyeGate will repay Jade liabilities of up to $300,000 and will issue 765,728 shares of EyeGate common stock, 90% of which were issued at the closing and 10% of which will be held back for 18 months to satisfy post-closing adjustments or indemnification obligations. The transaction also includes a cash earn-out provision calling for the additional payment of up to $2,164,451 contingent upon a Jade product receiving FDA marketing approval.